When I was home for Thanksgiving this past month, I made a return trip to my old high school for a basketball game. You may not be aware of it, but when I was growing up in Indiana, high school basketball was king in the state. Like high school hockey is in Minnesota and high school football is in Texas. There was nothing that could compete with a Friday or Saturday basketball game in my gym, which just happened to be the second largest in the US but was also the second largest in Indiana. It seats 8996. Just to give you a little perspective, 9 of the top 11 largest gyms in the country are found in the state. Like I said, we take our basketball seriously in Indiana. Or at least we used to. Time, manufacturing leaving the area, changing to a class system and competition from other forms of entertainment have taken their toll on attendance. Shockingly so. I was pleasantly surprised the ticket prices were still $5 for adults. But even at a price that was 30% lower than a movie ticket and a strong push from an alumni group to go to this particular game, there were probably only about 1500 people watching the game. The band, which used to take up the entire stage and spill out the sides, was so small the sound barely reached beyond the heavy velvet drapes that still hung from the rigging.
I know change is inevitable but it broke my heart to see what had become of the school I loved and hated at the same time. High school for me wasn’t the glory years usually portrayed in film. It was more like Sherman’s march through the south, brutal and unrelenting. But regardless of the battle wounds I’d received, I still was saddened by how far it had fallen. There was even talk it might be closed permanently.
Nonetheless, the game went on and the Indians were triumphant. I’m going to try to go to another game sometime before the winter’s out. If only to support the effort of the athletes that are surrounded by the glories that once were. They’ll never know what it was like when the room was filled to the rafters and it was standing room only. But maybe my whoops and cheers will add to the meager chorus and show the “spirit seldom seen” as our school song says.